Violence never acceptable, for any target

By Shan Renping Source:Global Times Published: 2012-9-26 1:20:03

Han Deqiang, a professor at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, slapped an elderly man and accused him of insulting former Chinese leader Mao Zedong during the September 18 anti-Japanese protests in Beijing.

His action has attracted a good deal of criticism.

However, many people supported his action. Han himself refused to apologize. He argued that he would do the same when facing a similar situation in future.

This incident is an extreme example of the nationwide anti-Japanese protests on September 18. Generally speaking, that day's protests were relatively constrained compared to the previous few days.

There were few cases of smashing "Japanese" shops and cars, looting stores, or attacking people on that day.

However, the progress has been undermined because of Han's irrational behavior.

It is absolutely wrong for Han to slap others. Han is a professor, while his victim appears to have been in his 80s. There is no excuse for Han's behavior. It is an ethical issue.

However, in recent days, many "left-wingers" have supported Han, while most critics are "liberals."

In fact, the major difference between these two sides is the motivation of Han's behavior instead of whether it is right to slap others. They are competing with each other over ideology, not morality.

A deep rift has started in Chinese society. Taking ideology as the starting point has become the norm. All disputes are made ideological. All news is ideologically distorted.

Some people even try to achieve those goals at the cost of universal ethics and real "universal values."

For instance, the ethics of not smashing shops and cars, looting stores, and attacking people have been put aside, while the target of such acts determines whether these acts are right or wrong.

A few months ago, law professor and blogger Wu Fatian was allegedly "beaten up." Wu has been nicknamed by netizens "the chief representative of the 50 cent party" and considered to have always spoken for the government.

Many people applauded Wu's being beaten up. From their perspective, Wu deserved it. Today, there are many people who defend Han's behavior.

Also several months ago, many netizens applauded violent protests aimed at the Shifang and Qidong governments. And recently, some people have preached that Japanese cars and Japanese stores deserve to be smashed.

Although the supporters of the two sides are deeply opposed, they all show the belligerence of Chinese society.

Maybe we should go back to the basics of social morality to stand against all acts of violence. We should try our best to remove ideological conflict and political debates out of the tribunal on violence, making them find their own battleground at other places, so that we can dig out violence from all kinds of shelters.

China should commit itself to the establishment of a society governed by the rule of law. All resolutions of problems and all emotional expression should be under the framework of the law. Even if the channels for problem-solving are limited in the short term, the public should never seek breakthroughs by violent means, because this kind of breakthrough may lead to negative effects and further undermine our legal system.

The disputes over values are driving the two sides of the public to extremes. The odds of reaching a consensus between them are almost zero.

People from both sides are well-educated. They are all under the same legal system and share the same achievements of Chinese reform. Also, they are facing the same problems that China shares at the present stage. However, currently, they oppose every argument of the other side. 

We should sum up these experiences and reach a firm consensus of opposing violence in China's intellectual community.

The rational establishment of China's civil society should be started here. 

The author is a commentator with the Chinese edition of the Global Times.

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